Understanding Arthritis-Induced Toe Pain

Arthritis, a condition characterized by inflammation and stiffness of the joints, can affect various parts of the body, including the toes.

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Arthritis, a condition characterized by inflammation and stiffness of the joints, can affect various parts of the body, including the toes. When arthritis strikes the toes, it can lead to persistent and often debilitating pain. The most common forms of arthritis that affect the toes are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, often associated with aging and wear and tear, causes the cartilage in the toe joints to break down, resulting in pain, swelling, and reduced mobility. Conversely, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the joints, leading to inflammation, pain, and deformities in the toes. This type of toe pain can be particularly challenging, as we rely on our toes for balance and mobility. It can affect daily activities such as walking, standing, and even wearing shoes comfortably. Understanding the nature of this pain is the first step toward finding relief and maintaining a good quality of life. If you have toe pain, it is strongly suggested that you are under the care of a podiatrist who can diagnose toe arthritis, and offer appropriate management options.

Toe pain can disrupt your daily activities. If you have any concerns, contact one of our podiatrists of Integrative Foot & Ankle Centers of Washington. Our doctors can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

What Causes Toe Pain?

Most severe toe pain is caused due to a sports injury, trauma from dropping something heavy on the toe, or bumping into something rigid. Other problems can develop over time for various reasons.

Toe pain can be caused by one or more ailments. The most common include:

  • Trauma
  • Sports injury
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Corns and calluses
  • Hammertoe
  • Bunions
  • Blisters
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Sprains
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Dislocations

When to See a Podiatrist

  • Severe pain
  • Persistent pain that lasts more than a week
  • Signs of infection
  • Continued swelling
  • Pain that prevents walking


In many cases the cause of toe pain is obvious, but in others, a podiatrist may want to use more advanced methods to determine the problem. These can range from simple visual inspections and sensation tests to X-rays and MRI scans. Prior medical history, family medical history, and any recent physical traumatic events will all be taken into consideration for a proper diagnosis.


Treatments for toe pain and injuries vary and may include shoe inserts, padding, taping, medicines, injections, and in some cases, surgery. If you believe that you have broken a toe, please see a podiatrist as soon as possible.

What to do next?

If you have any questions please feel free to contact one of our offices located in Kirkland, Everett, and Renton, WA . We offer the newest diagnostic tools and technology to treat your foot and ankle needs.